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House of Commons Hansard #87 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was privacy.

Topics

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

The recorded division on Motion No. 15 stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 16. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries ActPrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

The recorded division on Motion No. 16 stands deferred.

Normally at this time the House would proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions at the report stage of the bill. However, pursuant to Standing Order 98, the divisions stand deferred until Wednesday, October 27, 2010, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for taking time to respond to questions on the very important matter of funding decisions regarding the $10 million promised in budget 2010 to address the issue of violence against aboriginal women.

On June 8, 2010, I asked the Minister of Justice to tell the House when we could expect to see a plan put in place for the investment of the $10 million promised in the budget. Again, not surprisingly, I was told the government would reveal its plan in due time.

It has been seven months since this funding was announced and still no plan has been revealed. Since budget 2010 announced this $10 million in funding, I have asked the government to reveal its plan no fewer than four times. Every time I stand in the House and ask this question, the government has the same answer, “Soon”.

Soon is not good enough. Recent research from the Sisters in Spirit initiative shows that 582 aboriginal women have gone missing or have been murdered, 582 women. It is unspeakable that this tragedy has occurred and inexplicable that the government is doing nothing to address this and prevent such injustice from continuing.

Per capita, 582 missing and murdered aboriginal women is the equivalent of more than 19,000 non-aboriginal women going missing or being murdered. Would the government continue to procrastinate and refuse to set out a plan in that situation?

What is worse is that organizations on the ground have the solutions necessary to start to address the issue of violence committed against aboriginal women, and all that is missing is the funding and the political will to stop the overwhelming violence being experienced.

I must say with genuine regret and some exasperation that this is all too typical of the current government. The experts on the ground have the answers, but the party in power seems determined to remain idle until it is too late to get the funding in place so that it can be used for programming before the money disappears in March 2012.

Groups across the country are afraid that this is exactly what will happen with the funding promised. We all know this funding must be spent by the end of fiscal year 2011-12. That leaves only 17 months to make the announcement, roll out the funding and allow organizations to create the infrastructure to support the funds. It is just not enough time.

The Standing Committee on the Status of Women has begun a study on the issue of violence against aboriginal women. We began last spring, and what we are hearing time and time again is that funding to address this issue is inadequate. Certainly, funding is needed to help women flee violence and to catch perpetrators, but there is also a need to invest in prevention.

We need to fund groups on the ground that will help combat the systemic causes of violence against aboriginal women. Many of these groups are small and they need more than 17 months to prepare their projects and spend the investment promised in budget 2010. They are desperate to know now where this money is going and how the government intends to proceed.

I ask my question again. What is the government's plan of action regarding the $10 million promised in budget 2010 to address violence against aboriginal women, and when will this plan be announced and the funding rolled out?

Aboriginal women in Canada cannot afford to wait any longer.

October 26th, 2010 / 7:35 p.m.

Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, this government takes all incidents of crime very seriously indeed. That is why we have been active in introducing a series of bills to tackle crime: cracking down on gang violence and the activities that finance organized crime; responding to youth crime through fair and appropriate measures to hold young people accountable when they break the law; and, as part of our national anti-drug strategy, making Canadians more aware of the consequences of using illicit drugs, in addition to supporting initiatives to treat those who become addicted.

We all have a stake in addressing crime, and we all have a stake in addressing the disturbingly high number of missing and murdered aboriginal women identified by the Sisters in Spirit initiative. My hon. colleague opposite is correct that this government recognized this pressing criminal justice priority in both the recent Speech from the Throne and in the recent budget. I was pleased that there was over $10 million in the most recent budget to address this important issue.

As this involves an all too real tragedy for the women, their families, their children, and their communities, it is important to make certain that we focus on how best to use the $10 million to achieve concrete action and real change.

The government is moving forward on this file, over a wide range of possible solutions and proposals, and details will be announced very shortly.

The Native Women's Association of Canada has produced some important research and brought particular attention to this issue, supported by five years of funding from the Government of Canada. That research has highlighted the complex and interrelated set of factors that contribute to the high rates of violence facing aboriginal women and girls in Canada today.

The government has already taken a number of steps to address some of these underlying factors. We now have the new federal framework for aboriginal economic development, announced on June 29, 2009; the commitments made as part of Canada's economic action plan to aboriginal skills, training, and employment; budget 2010's investment in aboriginal health programs; Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's family violence prevention program; CMHC's shelter enhancement program on reserves; and many others.

The government made both a financial commitment and a public apology to former students of residential schools who experienced the most serious abuses, the lingering effects of which have affected their families and communities. The tragic emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, the neglect of helpless children, and the separation of children from powerless families and communities has contributed to social problems that continue to exist in many communities today.

The government's 2008 apology to former students of residential schools was coupled in budget 2010 with an additional $199 million to meet higher than expected funding needs in support of the settlement agreement.

On the specific issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women, the federal government continues to work in partnership with provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the criminal justice system's response.

On October 15, 2010, federal, provincial, and territorial ministers responsible for justice and public safety released a report entitled, “Issues Related to the High Number of Murdered and Missing Women in Canada”.

In 2001, Project Evenhanded, a joint RCMP-Vancouver police task force, was set up to look at missing and murdered sex-trade workers.

In 2006, Project Resolve, a joint partnership between the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario and the Ontario Provincial Police, was set up to match missing persons with unidentified human remains. The B.C. Coroners Service joined in 2008.

To conclude in the time remaining, the question of missing and murdered aboriginal women is of great importance not only to this government but I am sure to each and every member in this House. This issue is too significant for grandstanding; it is literally an issue of life and death.

As I mentioned, the government is moving forward to respond—

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. The hon. member for London—Fanshawe.

7:40 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, again we hear the word “soon”. I would remind the member opposite that the budget is far from recent. It was months ago.

Aboriginal women in Canada have been waiting long enough. The government needs to announce its plan now. Funding needed to be rolled out yesterday.

The issue of violence against aboriginal women is multifaceted and complex, and it will not go away overnight. Experts have advocated for investment in direct service providers to help address this issue.

The Standing Committee on the Status of Women heard that funding in communities is piecemeal. There is limited ability to intervene with prevention programs, because the financial supports are not present. Access to educational opportunities with an emphasis on new life skills and healthier life choices is unavailable. We have been told repeatedly that funding needs to be available to grassroots organizations that provide the services necessary.

When will the government finally take this issue seriously? It has announced the $10 million. When will it flow?

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has made a commitment to take action on this issue. There has been a great deal of research done, including that done by the Sisters in Spirit initiative. We know the issues that need to be addressed. We also know that there are many complex and interrelated factors that contribute to the situation of higher rates of violence among aboriginal women and girls.

These are not going to change overnight, but will require sustained effort to achieve real change. This issue is too important to rush into, although I fully agree that action is needed. The government has committed to this issue, not only in the Speech from the Throne, but also in terms of the financial investment announced in the budget.

I look forward to the announcement of the details of the concrete actions this government will take to improve our criminal justice system, and I ask the hon. member to stay tuned. The announcement will be made very soon.

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:44 p.m.)